Building Your Company Culture: 9 Mistakes to Avoid [& How to Fix Them]

As a leader, you may focus on building your company culture that you and your team can be proud of. However, there are a number of mistakes that will send your culture backwards without care to avoid them. I share nine in this article.

People tend to forget that building your company culture is all about creating a culture that both yourself and your team are proud of, that helps create more positive cohesion, and enables your business to grow.

A positive company culture isn’t about having ping pong tables, free Friday beers or other workplace perks. A great culture results in a team of engaged people who are keen to come to work, and understand what the company mission and values are.

So, without further, let’s explore nine common mistakes people make when building a company culture, and share some advice on how to avoid these happening.

Building your company culture without planning

One of the mistakes often found is that people just dive into ‘let’s create a great culture’ mode, and not planning ahead at all. You need to take a look at the culture you currently have (face it, there’s a company culture, regardless if you planned one or not) and find the areas of improvement. You need to decide on the direction of the business for the next 1-3 years, and revisit your mission and vision statements.

In Managing your company culture change, the writer states;

The two most important elements for creating organisational cultural change are executive support and training.

Executive support: Executives must support the cultural change in ways beyond verbal support. They must show support for the cultural change by changing their own behaviors.

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Training: Culture change depends on behavior change. Members of the organisation must clearly understand what is expected of them and how to actually do the new behaviors. Use training to communicate expectations and new behaviors. Mentoring will also help employees learn and change.

If you don’t plan for these sort of activities, you are setting yourself up to not get the results you have been hoping for.

Lack of communication

Another mistake to avoid when you are building your company culture, is not communicating your culture plans with anyone else. Make sure your team, especially any middle or senior management, know what your culture strategy is, and what part they are expected to play in reshaping any cultural change.

Face it, your people aren’t telepathic – they need you to clearly communicate what your plans are, and where you feel the current culture is letting down yourself and the team. Being aware of such problems is the first step toward solving them – you need to share this with others, for it to work.

Focusing on the negative

As a leader you have a large part in setting the tone of the company. Be watchful of your mood and what type of energy you are spreading to your team. If you believe there are negative elements to the current culture, walking around moaning about them won’t help solve this.

If you want to be known as a friendly person or colleague who brings positive energy to the office, start with proactive suggestions on fixing the problems, rather than complaining or spreading negativity.

Work to banish negativity in your company before it starts spreading.

Making poor hiring decisions

Speaking of your team, building a company culture that is positive will never happen with poor hiring choices. The old adage ‘Hire slow, fire fast’ comes to mind – if you have team members who are constantly undermining their managers, or spreading negativity, it may be time to let them go.

During your hiring process, you may feel you have found a brilliant candidate with the right skill set to move your company forward, however you should also assess these candidates for cultural fit.

If you had to choose between technical skills and personality and drive, remember that you can train anyone for skills. The same doesn’t go for training someone to change their personality or characteristics.


Building your company culture

Photo: Stock Snap

Lack of goal setting

Goals are an integral part of building a company culture that you can be proud of. Goals motivate all of us to be focused and work toward shared results.

However, you need to learn how to prioritise your goals properly as it is an important skill that will help you and your company success. Take note that great leaders balance short-term thinking with long- term planning and thinking.

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”

– Tony Robbins

Overlooking social needs

Another common mistake to avoid when you are building your company culture is not being concern about the teams’ social needs. Great leaders encourage friendships at work as it helps to build a family style culture.

Employees do not want to just show up at work and leave – they want a meaningful work experience that includes them being actively involved. So try to pick a few effective employee engagement ideas that would work for your team, and run with them.

Having no defined company values

A common occurrence with people trying to create a positive culture, is that they have zero written values or mission statement. Think of these as a way to express what behaviour and values are and aren’t acceptable. Make sure that you and your colleagues also display these qualities that are shown in the values.

Our founder wrote an article here about how we worked as a team to come up with a set of shared values – this is a great way to get buy in from the whole team.

Don’t be so serious

Every person needs a little fun in their lives, so don’t forget to enjoy some laughter and smiles. In our article on positive signs of a company culture, we state “You are often greeted with a smiling face or you hear well wishes of “Good morning!” being exchanged by your employees at the corner of the office.”

Does this happen in your workplace? Make sure to be approachable by your team, and encourage a little laughter here and there.

Building your company culture is not once off

Finally, the last mistake is all too common – some managers have the wrong idea of culture as being a checklist item that you can change, tick off and forget.

That is far from reality. A positive company culture needs constant tending, and direction. You should make it a regular occurrence to review how things are going, and what areas you should focus on for the next quarter, six months or year.

Plans are nothing; planning is everything.
– Dwight D. Eisenhower

In Summary

Culture will emerge regardless of your actions. Most leaders want a great place to work. Building your company culture with the above in mind will help you create a more positive and engaging workplace for yourself and the team.

The solutions to the above nine mistakes, are;

  • Always plan ahead
  • Communicate to your team
  • Avoid spreading negativity
  • Hire for culture from the start
  • Set yourself and the team goals
  • Don’t overlook social needs
  • Have a set of defined values
  • Remember to have fun
  • Continue to nurture that culture

Embrace these, and start building your company culture so it achieves the results that you want and the team needs.

Heryati R

Heryati R

Heryati is a member of the customer success team at 6Q, and is based in Perth, Western Australia. Heryati enjoys writing, reading and live music. She believes 6Q is awesome for employee engagement surveys.